Monday, January 31, 2011

a room




.
.
A room does not turn its back on grief.
Anger does not excite it.
Before desire, it neither responds
nor draws back in fear.

Without changing expression,
it takes
and gives back;
not a tuft in the mattress alters.

Windowsills evenly welcome
both heat and cold.
Radiators speak or fall silent as they must.

Doors are not equivocal,
floorboards do not hesitate or startle.
Impatience does not stir the curtains,
a bed is neither irritable nor rapacious.

Whatever disquiet we sense in a room
we have brought there.

And so I instruct my ribs each morning,
pointing to hinge and plaster and wood -

You are matter, as they are.
See how perfectly it can be done.
Hold, one day more, what is asked.



~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart
art by Pierre Bonnard




The gate of heaven is everywhere.

~ Thomas Merton


Sunday, January 30, 2011

the fall



.


.

There is no where in you a paradise that is no place and there
You do not enter except without a story.
.
To enter there is to become unnameable.
.
Whoever is nowhere is nobody, and therefore cannot exist except as unborn:
No disguise will avail him anything
.
Such a one is neither lost nor found.
.
But he who has an address is lost.
.
They fall, they fall into apartments and are securely established!
.
They find themselves in streets. They are licensed
To proceed from place to place
They now know their own names
They can name several friends and know
Their own telephones must some time ring.
.
If all telephones ring at once, if all names are shouted at once and all cars crash at one crossing:
If all cities explode and fly away in dust
Yet identities refuse to be lost. There is a name and a number for everyone.
.
There is a definite place for bodies, there are pigeon holes for ashes:
Such security can business buy!
.
Who would dare to go nameless in so secure a universe?
Yet, to tell the truth, only the nameless are at home in it.
.
They bear with them in the center of nowhere the unborn flower of nothing:
This is the paradise tree. It must remain unseen until words end and arguments are silent.

.
~ Thomas Merton
from The Selected Poems of Thomas Merton


.

A song to nobody






.

.

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

.
~ Thomas Merton
from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton

.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me



.

Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me,
if this is the time.
Do it gently with a touch of a hand,  or a look.
Every morning I wait at dawn.  That's when
it's happened before.  Or do it suddenly
like an execution.  How else
can I get ready for death?
...
~ Rumi
.

Friday, January 28, 2011

failure to see






Rather the flying bird, leaving no trace
Than the going beast
Marking the earth with his track.

The bird flies by and forgets
(As is only right).  The beast
Where he no longer is
(And is therefore no use)
Marks that he was there before
(Which is also no use).

For to remember is to betray
Nature, since the nature of yesterday
Is not nature.
What has been, is nothing.
Remembering
Is failure to see.

Move on, bird, move on, teach me
To move on.





~ Fernando Pessoa
as translated by Thomas Merton



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Effortlessly


.
.
Effortlessly,
Love flows from God to man,
Like a bird
Who rivers the air
Without moving her wings.
Thus we move in His world
One in body and soul,
Though outwardly separate in form.
As the Source strikes the note,
Humanity sings -
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all the strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.
.
~ Mechtild of Magdeburg
(1210-1282)
.





I Am But a Traveler In This Land & Know Little of Its Ways



.

Is everything a field of energy caused
by human projection? From the crib bars
hang the teething tools. Above the finger-drummed 
desk, a bit lip. The cyclone fence of buts
.
surrounds the soccer field of what if.
Sometimes it seems like a world where no one 
knows what he or she is doing, eight lanes 
both directions. How about a polymer
.
that contracts in response to electrical
charge? A swimming pool on the 18th floor? 
King Lear done by sock puppets? Anyone
who has traveled here knows the discrepancies
.
between idea and fact. The idea is the worm 
in the tequila and the next day is the fact. 
In between may be the sacred—real blood 
from the wooden virgin’s eyes, and the hoax—
.
landing sites in cornfields. Maybe ideas
are best sprung from actions like the children 
of Zeus. One gives us elastic and the omelette, 
another nightmares and SUVs. There’s considerable
.
wobble in the system, and the fan belt screams, 
waking the baby. Swaying in the darkened 
nursery, kissing the baby-smelling head: 
good idea! But also sadness looking at the sea.
.
The stranded whale, guided out of the cove 
by tugboats, turns and swims back in. 
The violinist will not let go her violin 
which is 200 years old and still on the train
.
thus she is dragged down the track. 
By what manner is the soul joined to the body? 
Answer: an arm connecting a violin
to a violinist. According to Freud,
.
there are no accidents. Astrologists
and Presbyterians agree for different reasons. 
You fall down the stairs with a birthday cake. 
You try to fit a blunderbuss into a laptop.
.
Human consciousness: is it the projector
or the screen? They come in orange jumpsuits 
and spray the grass so everything dies
but the grass. It is too late to ask Kafka
.
what he thinks. Sometimes they give you 
a box of ash, a handshake, and the rest 
is your problem. In one version,
the beggar turns out to be a king and grants
.
the poor couple a castle and a moat and two 
silver horses said to be sired by the wind.
That was before dentistry, which might have been 
a better gift. You did not want to get sick 
in the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th or 18th centuries.
.
So too the 19th and 20th were to be avoided
but the doctor coming to bleed you is the master 
of the short story. After the kiss from whom 
he will never know, the lieutenant, going home,
.
touches a bush in which birds are singing.


.
~ Dean Young
from Skid


.
As you may know, Dean is in need of a heart transplant.

Over the past 10 or 15 years, Dean has lived with a degenerative heart condition--congestive heart failure due to idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy. After periods of more-or-less remission, in which his heart was stabilized and improved with the help of medications, the function of his heart has worsened. Now, radically.
.
a video by D.J. Dolack of the recent benefit reading for dean Young at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.
Readers include Robert N. Casper, Joe Di Prisco, Matthea Harvey, Edward Hirsch, Mary Karr, Matthew Rohrer, Gerald Stern and Dara Wier.
.
...and Dean Young on the telephone.



To make an online donation, please visit Dean Young's page at the National Foundation for Transplants.

thanks to Rebel Girl for the update

.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

returning to the source is tranquility







If you can empty your mind of all thoughts
your heart will embrace the tranquility of peace.
Watch the workings of all of creation,
but contemplate their return to the source.

All creatures in the universe
return to the point where they began.
Returning to the source is tranquility
because we submit to Heaven's mandate.

Returning to Heaven's mandate is called being constant.
Knowing the constant is called 'enlightenment'.
Not knowing the constant is the source of evil deeds
because we have no roots.
By knowing the constant we can accept things as they are.
By accepting things as they are, we become impartial.
By being impartial, we become one with Heaven.
By being one with Heaven, we become one with Tao.
Being one with Tao, we are no longer concerned about
losing our life because we know the Tao is constant
and we are one with Tao.







~ Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching
translated by j. h. mcdonald
cave art: chauvet-pont-d'arc

.



Unto this Darkness

.


.
Unto this Darkness which is
beyond Light
we pray that we may come, and 
may attain unto vision through
the loss of sight and knowledge,
and that in ceasing thus to see or
to know
we may learn to know that which 
is beyond all perception and 
understanding
(for this emptying of
our faculties
is true sight and knowledge).

.
~ Pseudo-Dionysius
Dionysius the Areopagite called Pseudo - to differentiate him from the Dionysius mentioned by Paul in Acts.  He lived in the 6th Century and has had a profound impact on Christian mystics.

.


.


desert places



.


.

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
.
The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.
.
And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.
.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
.
~ Robert Frost

.

being lonely

.


.
So being lonely, I want to find someone or some idea through which I can be happy.  But loneliness always remains; it is ever there, under cover.  But as it frightens me, and as I do not know what the inward nature of this loneliness is, therefore I want to find something to which to cling.  So I think that through something, through a person, I will be happy.  So our mind is always concerned with finding something.  Through furniture, through a house, through books, through people, through ideas, through rituals, though symbols, we hope to get something, to find happiness.  And so the things, the people, the ideas, become extraordinarily important, because through them we hope we shall find it.  So we begin to be dependent on them.
.
But with it all there is still this thing not understood, not resolved; the anxiety, the fear, is still there....Is it not very important that I should understand this loneliness, this ache, this pain of extraordinary emptiness?  Because if I understand that, perhaps I shall not use anything to find happiness, I shall not use God as a means to acquire peace, or a ritual in order to have more sensations, exaltations, inspirations. 
...
If I knew the content of loneliness, then I would not be afraid of it. But because I have an idea of what it might be, I run away from it.  The very running away creates the fear, not the looking at it. To look at it, to be with it, facing it, then I am capable of loving it, of looking into it.  Because all other processes away from that loneliness are deviation, escapes, distractions.  If the mind can live with it, then perhaps through that the mind will find that state which is alone, a mind that is not lonely but completely alone, not dependent, not seeking to find through something.
.
It is necessary to be alone, to know that aloneness which is not induced by circumstances, that aloneness which is not isolation, that aloneness which is creativeness, when the mind is no longer seeking either happiness, virtue, or creating resistance, It is the mind which is alone that can find - not the mind which has been contaminated, made corrupt, by its own experiences.  So perhaps loneliness, of which we are all aware, if we know how to look at it, may open the door to reality.
.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from a talk in London, 7 April 1953
art by picasso
.


Monday, January 24, 2011

walk in the dark






If a man
wishes to be sure
of the road he travels on,
he must close his eyes 
and walk in the dark.


~ Saint John of the Cross


seeing for oneself, the value and the limitations of the knowing, and understanding of the mind 
can allow the faith to step boldly into the unknowing of silence, of darkness,
 and find ourselves within the unspeakable.





daydreaming


.

.
I believe that the root of evil,
in everybody perhaps,
but, certainly in those whom
affliction has touched,
is daydreaming.
It is the sole consolation,
the unique resource of the afflicted;
the one solace that helps them bear
the fearful burden to time;
and a very innocent one,
besides being indispensable.
So how could it be possible to renounce it?
It has only one disadvantage,
which is that it is unreal.
To renounce it for the love of truth
is really to abandon all one's possessions
in a mad excess of love and follow Him
who is the personification of Truth.
And it is really to bear the cross;
because time is the cross.
In all its forms without exception,
daydreaming is falsehood.
It excludes love. Love is real.
.
~ Simone Weil
.
from for lovers of god everywhere
poems of the Christian mystics
by roger housden
art by picasso

.
  Daydreaming - not the activity of having thoughts, but allowing one's attention to get lost in them - is an obstacle to presence, an obstacle to love which exists only in presence, an obstacle to our embrace of the fullness of life,  and to contemplative practices in all traditions..

.


When we are weak


.
.
When we are weak, we are
strong.  When our eyes close
on the world, then somewhere
within us the bush
burns.  When we are poor
and aware of the inadequacy
of our table, it is to that 
uninvited the guest comes.
.
~ R. S. Thomas
.







Sunday, January 23, 2011

I am blind






.

I am blind and do not see the things of this world; 
but when the Light comes from above, it enlightens my Heart, 
and I can see, for the Eye of my Heart sees everything.
The Heart is a sanctuary of the Center in which there is a little space 
wherein the Great Spirit dwells, and this is the Eye. 
This is the Eye of Wakentaka by which he sees all things,
and through which we see Him.
.

~  Black Elk

.

vast inner solitude










What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours — that is what you must be able to attain.

You should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it. This very wish, if you use it calmly and prudently and like a tool, will help you spread out your solitude over a great distance.




~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from his Letters To A Young Poet



Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Night Abraham Called to the Stars




.

Do you remember the night Abraham first saw
The stars? He cried to Saturn: "You are my Lord!"
How happy he was! When he saw the Dawn Star,
.
He cried, ""You are my Lord!" How destroyed he was
When he watched them set. Friends, he is like us:
We take as our Lord the stars that go down.
.
We are faithful companions to the unfaithful stars.
We are diggers, like badgers; we love to feel
The dirt flying out from behind our back claws.
.
And no one can convince us that mud is not 
Beautiful. It is our badger soul that thinks so.
We are ready to spend the rest of our life
.
Walking with muddy shoes in the wet fields.
We resemble exiles in the kingdom of the serpent.
We stand in the onion fields looking up at the night.
.
My heart is a calm potato by day, and a weeping
Abandoned woman by night. Friend, tell me what to do,
Since I am a man in love with the setting stars.
.

~ Robert Bly

.

a turtle's pace




.
Consider the turtle.  A whole summer - June, July, and August - is not too good nor too much to hatch a turtle in.  Perchance you have worried yourself, despaired of the world, meditated the end of life, and all things seemed rushing to destruction; but nature has steadily and serenely advanced with a turtle's pace.
.

~ Henry David Thoreau
from a journal entry, 1856
art by Roderick Maclver

.

still playing




.

.

Mind and body dropped off; 
dropped off mind and body!
This state should be experienced by everyone;
it is like piling fruit into a basket without a bottom,
like pouring water into a bowl With a pierced hole;
However much you may pile or pour you cannot fill it up.
When this is realized the pail bottom is broken through.
But while there is still a trace of conceptualizations
which makes you say ‘I have this understanding’
or ‘I have that realization’,
you are still playing with unrealities.

.

~ Dogen Zenji
.
Dogen was born about 1200 in Kyoto, Japan,
 he was drawn to the teachings of silent meditation. 
He established his own school of zen. 


.



Friday, January 21, 2011

unsafe rafts

.


.
...rituals are unsafe rafts for crossing
the sea of samsara, of birth and death.
Doomed to shipwreck are those who try to cross
the sea of samsara on these poor rafts.
Ignorant of their ignorance, yet wise 
in their own esteem, these deluded ones
proud of their learning go round and round
like the blind led by the blind.
.
Living in darkness, immature, unaware
of any higher good or goal, they fall
again and again into the sea.
...

...
The eye cannot see it; mind cannot grasp it.
The deathless Self has neither caste nor race,
neither eyes nor ears nor hands nor feet.
... 
As the web issues out of the spider
and is withdrawn, as plants sprout from the earth.
as hair grows from the body, even so,
the sages say, this universe springs from
the deathless Self, the source of life.
.
The deathless Self meditated upon 
Himself and projected the universe
As evolutionary energy.
From this energy developed life, mind,
the elements, and the world of karma,
which is enchained by cause and effect.
.
The lord of Love is the one Self of all.
He is detached work, spiritual wisdom,
and immortality.  Realize the Self
hidden in the heart, and cut asunder
the knot of ignorance here and now.
.

~ the Mundaka Upanishad
translated by Eknath Easwaran

.


when I detect a beauty


.

.
When I detect a beauty in any of the recesses of nature, 
I am reminded by the serene and retired spirit in which it requires to be contemplated, 
of the inexpressible privacy of life - how silent and unambitious it is.  
The beauty there in mosses will have to be considered from the holiest, quietest nook.
.
My truest, serenest moments are too still for emotion; they have woolen feet.  
In all our lives we live under the hill, and if we are not gone we live there still. 
....
To be calm, to be serene!  
There is the calmness of the lake when there is not a breath of wind;
there is the calmness of a stagnant ditch.  So is it with us.  
Sometimes we are clarified and calmed healthily, as we never were before in our lives, 
not by an opiate, but by some unconscious obedience to the all-just laws, 
so that we become like a still lake of purest crystal 
and without an effort our depths are revealed to ourselves.  
.
I awoke into a music which no one by me heard.
Whom shall I thank for it?  I feel my Maker blessing me.
To the sane man the world is a musical instrument.
The very touch affords an exquisite pleasure.

.

~ Henry David Thoreau
taken from a journal entry, June 22,1851

.

water lily






.

.


My whole life is mine, but whoever says so
will deprive me, for it is infinite.
The ripple of water, the shade of the sky
are mine; it is still the same, my life.

No desire opens me: I am full,
I never close myself with refusal-
in the rhythm of my daily soul
I do not desire-I am moved;

by being moved I exert my empire,
making the dreams of night real:
into my body at the bottom of the water
I attract the beyonds of mirrors...
.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke 
translated by A. Poulin 

.



you, darkness






You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world, 
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you. 

But the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself, 
how easily it gathers them! -
powers and people-

and it is possible a great presence is moving near me. 

I have faith in nights. 




~ Rainer Maria Rilke


.